Fossett search may reveal clues about other lost fliers

September 10, 2007|By Steve Friess | Steve Friess,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Minden, Nev. -- An experienced pilot takes off in a single-engine plane on a clear day for a short flight in the Sierra Nevada region and is never heard from again. Officials look for him without success, and his family is tormented by the questions about his fate that nobody can answer.

It's a familiar tale, of course, because the headlines have been flooded with the search for millionaire aviator Steve Fossett, who took off Sept. 3 and remains missing in northern Nevada.

But this case isn't a week old; it happened 43 years ago. And the hunt for Fossett might help resolve the enduring mystery surrounding Charles Ogle, then 41, who lifted off from Oakland, Calif., in August 1964 but vanished en route to Reno.

In the mammoth search for Fossett across a 17,000-square- mile swath of the Sierra Nevada range, searchers have come across wreckage from six other small planes that had never been discovered. Each of those crash sites holds clues to the fates of other lost fliers.

It's too soon to tell to whom those wrecks belong because rescuers must first focus on finding Fossett, holder of more than 110 world records of land, sea and air who took off for what was to be a brief jaunt from a ranch 90 miles southeast of Reno and never returned.

But relatives of Ogle, a native of Dale, Ind., are hoping that when crews return to those newly found sites and examine them, they may find answers.

"This has hung over me my whole life," said William Ogle, 47, of Gainesville, Fla., who was 4 when his father disappeared.

Steve Friess writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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